Children bear brunt of climate disasters as 160,000 displaced

 Africa Climate Summit.

Amira Sayed Ahmed Mohamed,a delegate from Egypt taking a selfie with dancers from Bomas of Kenya at KICC in Nairobi on September 5,2023 during the Africa Climate Summit.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

Climate-related disasters displaced an additional 160,000 children in the country last year, according to new data.

The data, released yesterday by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, shows that some 187,000 children were displaced in the country last year alone due to climate shocks, up from 27,000 in 2021.

The data was released on the sidelines of Africa's largest climate summit in Nairobi, where world leaders gathered to discuss solutions to the climate crisis and the future of the continent.

The report also revealed that some children were displaced multiple times, while others were displaced once, but all were still away from home at the end of the year.

The data was released on September 5, 2023 as world leaders gathered in Nairobi for Africa's largest climate summit to discuss the future of the continent and find solutions to the climate crisis.

The data shows that some of the children included in the report were displaced multiple times, while others were displaced once, but all were still displaced from their homes at the end of the year. Most of the displaced children were living in camps, some with extended family and others in temporary arrangements.

Children are more vulnerable than adults to the effects of climatic and environmental shocks and stresses. They are physically less able to withstand and survive hazards such as floods, droughts, storms and heat waves.

According to the report, the numbers could be much higher than what is reported as the report only covers Garissa, Isiolo, Marsabit and Turkana counties.

The figures highlight the stark reality that children's rights in Kenya and across the region are being eroded at an alarming rate by the climate crisis.

‘When children lose their homes, they lose almost everything: their access to health care, education, food and security," ave the Children Country Director for Kenya and Madagascar Yvonne Arunga said.

Regionally, the number of new internal displacements throughout the year in sub-Saharan Africa due to such disasters in 2022 was three times higher than the previous year, with 7.4 million new displacements in 2022 compared to 2.6 million in 2021. This is the highest annual number of new displacements due to climate disasters ever reported for the region, as the effects of successive climate shocks begin to set in and both the resilience of the land and the coping mechanisms of communities are exhausted.

“I hope the figures will spur leaders at Africa Climate Week to wake up to the experiences of children across the region, acknowledge that the climate crisis is having a devastating impact on their lives, and act urgently to integrate children's needs and rights into the much-needed response," Ms Arunga said.

She added: "We urgently need to scale up climate finance and support adaptation measures that protect children from the worst impacts of climate change. We must also ensure that children have access to essential services such as education and health care, regardless of their displacement status.”

Ms Jennifer Kaberi, a child development specialist and children's programme consultant, said young people are not just bystanders but inheritors of the consequences of climate change, hence the need to include them in the Africa Climate Summit.

“Children often have a unique perspective on environmental issues. Their unfiltered view can highlight overlooked concerns and innovative solutions, so engaging them ensures a diversity of voices and fosters creativity and inclusivity in shaping climate policy," Ms Arunga said.

“Without addressing the crisis head-on, today's children will bear the greatest burden, especially those living in the world's most vulnerable regions,” she added.